Former Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon has claimed the club are €1 billion ($1.2 billion) in debt and slammed the decision to sell Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus as “lunacy.”

The 69-year-old, who served as Los Blancos president between 2006 and 2009, made his feelings on the club’s current situation perfectly clear whilst speaking to reporters at the Desafio Nacex – a paddle tennis tournament held between former Real and Barcelona players.

“Since Cristiano was stupidly sold, it was clear that the team needed reinforcements in that position and in others but the sad reality is that the club’s accounts are not only bare but are also full of bills to the tune of around 1,000 million – bills that have to be paid,”he said.

Real are currently in the process of an enormous remodelling project at the Santiago Bernabeu, at a reported cost of €575 million ($650 million).

Covid-19 has also impacted clubs across the world with games being played without fans, while it was reported in the summer that Real’s two main sponsors, Fly Emirates and Adidas, could not afford to match the agreed terms on their current sponsorship deals with the club.

The former’s deal sees them pay €40 million per year to Los Blancos, while the latter agreed to pay €110 million annually.

Real did not sign a single player in the summer, but offloaded a number of stars including Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, Achraf Hakimi and Sergio Reguilon, either permanently or on loan.

Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane is reported to be under serious pressure after the club suffered consecutive defeats to Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk – who were without 13 senior players after a Covid-19 outbreak – in their last two matches.

Calderon is hoping the Frenchman can turn things around in the Spanish capital: “What happened against Shakhtar and Cadiz left a very bad taste but we have to be optimistic because this team have been through difficult moments before and managed to come through them although obviously, the sensations aren’t good.”

On club legend Zidane, he added: “He’s doing what he can with the resources available to him.

“The Shakhtar performance wasn’t good, there were a lot of mistakes, I’m sure in the line-up too, but you cannot pin the blame on one person, it’s an accumulation of circumstances, a chain of events which have led to this. 

“It was lunacy to sell Cristiano when they don’t have anyone to score goals.”

Ronaldo asked to leave Real in 2018, prompting his €100 million transfer to Juventus, but he later revealed he decided to do so because he no longer felt as valued by president Florentino Perez as he once did.

As such, the Portuguese phenomenon may well have opted to stay had Perez handled his latter years at the club differently.

The 35-year-old netted 450 goals in his nine seasons at the club – an average of exactly 50 per campaign – so replacing his firepower was always going to be extremely difficult for the club.

He has remained prolific in front of goal since moving to Italy, where he has scored 68 times in 91 games.

Real used the money brought in from Ronaldo’s sale to purchase Eden Hazard last year, but the former Chelsea winger has failed to set the world alight since his move having struggled for form and fitness. He managed to play just 22 times last season – returning one goal and seven assists – and he is yet to feature in this campaign.

Meanwhile, Karim Benzema has produced two of his more prolific campaigns in a Real shirt – he scored 30 in the season after Ronaldo left and hit 27 last year – but a poor start to this season has seen him hit the net just once in six games.

It’s clear the club still need someone who can shoulder the goalscoring burden left behind by Ronaldo, but unless they can find a bargain it might be difficult for them to afford such a player right now given their financial situation.

Real estimate their renovations of the Bernabeu will bring in an extra €150 million ($170 million) each year, so the completion of that project – projected for 2022 but potentially sooner because the pandemic accelerated their plans – cannot come soon enough.